California law provides rights for people arrested and never charged to have their records destroyed and sealed. Record sealing is removing your arrest records from the public database such that it is no more accessible to the public. California passed a law that you can have your record sealed for both misdemeanor and felony cases for those who are eligible.
The law benefits those who have been arrested and those with non-sexual and non-violent crimes. It is possible to continue living your life without having your past haunting you because you can have your record sealed in California. If the police arrested you innocently or without probable cause, you have a right to file a petition to have your record sealed.
To make the process a success, you should contact a well-experienced attorney to guide you through the legal process and get all the documents needed for the process. The Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney has experts who will see you through the process and help you have your records sealed. Our attorneys have defended many cases regarding post-conviction matters successfully.
If the police arrest you and want to secure a job or any other thing in your life before the court decides to have your record sealed, you can apply to have your arrest deemed detention. The court will issue a detention certificate. Once you have your detention certificate, you can enjoy the benefits of life and do not need to disclose your arrest to anyone, as you await the court to approve your petition to have your record sealed. You can apply for a detention certificate if:
- The arresting officer did so without a warrant, and you are later released due to lack of evidence.
- The arresting officer arrest you without a warrant and sends you to a hospital or an emergency room without filing any charges against you and
- The officer arrests you for intoxication, fails to present a warrant of arrest, and does not file any charge against you.
Who is Eligible for Record Sealing in California?
There are eligibility criteria if you want to have your record sealed. California law states that if the police arrested you, but the arrest did not result in any conviction, you can have your record sealed. It, therefore, means that, even if you were arrested for a felony or misdemeanor, you could still have your records sealed if:
- There were no criminal charges filed against you after your arrest.
- There were criminal charges filed against you but were later dismissed.
- There were criminal charges filed against you, but the judge proved you innocent.
People Not Eligible to Have Their Record Sealed in California
Not everyone is eligible to file a petition for record sealing. You cannot have your record sealed if you show a consistent pattern of elderly abuse, domestic violence, and elderly abuse. In this case, the pattern is being arrested and convicted for two, three, or more times within three years. You may fall in any of the above categories but still file for a petition to seal their records based on the interest of justice. Before the judge makes the decision, there are some factors they consider, such as:
- The evidence or declaration regarding the arrest
- The evidence or declaration regarding your good character
- Your prior records of convictions and
- The hardships you encounter due to the arrest.
Some elements will make it hard for your record to be sealed in California. You cannot have your record sealed if:
- There can be criminal charges against you that are based on your arrest.
- Your arrest resulted from murder or any other crime without a statute of limitations unless you were found innocent.
- You evaded at the time of the arrest.
Filing for a petition to have your record sealed is challenging, especially if you have been convicted for any of the above actions and you are on your own. It is essential to have an attorney by your side to help defend your case and help you file for a petition in the right way.
How Much Time Does it Take to have Your Record Sealed
The time will depend on whether your request has a challenge or not. If there is no challenge, the process of record sealing can take 90 days after you file your petition. The court will notify the involved parties about your petition to seal your record. The court will inform the law enforcement agency, which administers the criminal records, the law enforcement agencies that made the arrest, and the California Department of Justice. If you have not filed the petition in the right way or the prosecutor wants an investigation to be done, your request can take some more time.
The steps you take and how fast they are served will determine the prosecutor's time to seal your record.
Filling for a Petition
To have your record sealed, you should file for a petition. You should file the petition in the same court where your criminal acts were charged, and the law enforcement agency arrested you. If you were not charged, you should submit your petition to the county or the city where your arrest took place. In the petition, you will include:
- Your name and the date of birth
- Location, date, and the time of your arrest
- The county or city where you were arrested
- Name of the enforcement agency who arrested you
- Any other available information that may be available for your arrest, for example, the case number
- Detailed information of the criminal offense that led to your arrest
- A statement showing whether you are entitled to record sealing as a right or your request is just an action meant to serve the interest of justice
When filing for a petition to have your records sealed, you have to be very open and disclose all the information that the prosecutor may require. You must file for the petition 15 days before the day of your hearing.
Serving the Petition
After you file for a petition to seal your record, you should also give a copy of the petition to the interested parties. The interested parties include the law enforcement agency that arrested you and the prosecutor in the county or the city in which you were arrested. Your petition may fail if it is not well served.
Waiting for the Court's Response
The court and the prosecutor will review your petition. There are two possible outcomes for your petition. The court can order a hearing at the prosecutors’ request, or you can be granted the petition by the court.
If a hearing is ordered after you have filed for a petition to have your record sealed, the prosecutor has issues with your record sealing. It is a case that happens if you filed for a petition to have your record sealed, not as a matter of right but in the interest of justice. A hearing will be ordered if you have demonstrated a pattern of arrests and charges for child abuse, domestic violence, or elderly abuse.
Your attorney will defend the case by presenting all the legal evidence before the judge. You will have to prove the attorney's right to convince the judge why your criminal record should be sealed. After the hearing, the judge can either dismiss or grant your petition. If dismissed with prejudice, you will be barred from requesting to have your record sealed.
What Will Happen When the Judge Approves My Petition?
When the judge decides it is in your best interest to have your record sealed, the arresting officer or the officers in charge of your arrest records will be contacted. They will be notified about your petition and that they should have our record sealed. The information about your record sealing will be communicated to the officer in not more than 30 days after your petition is approved. The different parties involved in your records will proceed and seal your record. The record will therefore be accessible by the law enforcement agency and you only. Your name will be clean to the public, and you will therefore enjoy the benefits of being a free citizen.
The summaries of your criminal history will also be updated in a way that your history summary will state "arrest sealed." Therefore, you will not be required to disclose your records to anyone or even acknowledge that you had been arrested.
The Benefits of Having Your Records Sealed
Having your record sealed has many benefits, now that your records will not be available to the public database. Some of the benefits are:
- You can apply and obtain a job
- You can acquire professional/state licenses
- You can get into various organizations
- You can enroll in schools and universities and
- You will have peace of mind.
Application for a New Job
When the police arrest and convicted for a particular crime, you may have challenges securing a job. The reason being, while doing a background check, the employer will get the information that you had been arrested and charged for a crime. With the introduction of the law that allows you to seal your records, securing a job is now easier. With an attorney on your side, they can help you have your record sealed and live a life like any other California citizen.
Acquiring a State or Professional License
Many citizens in California pursue courses that require a professional certificate from various agencies and state boards. Sealing your record will help you obtain your professional license. Agencies and state bodies will not hesitate to issue your license because you have taken a step to have your record sealed.
The Benefit of Getting into Professional Organizations
There are professional organizations that do not require applicants to have a professional license. In that case, they conduct a thorough background check on the applicants to ensure it is hiring the right person. When you have sealed your records, you will not encounter challenges in securing a place in these organizations because your arrests and criminal records will not be uncovered.
Enrolling in Schools and Universities
Most schools and universities conduct a background check before giving you an admission, just like when you apply for a job. To have an easy time enrolling in a school program, you should seal your records with your record sealed; you do not have to disclose it to anyone because it is no longer available in the public database.
Peace of Mind
An arrest with a criminal conviction record can make you feel stressed. To avoid getting yourself in a sensitive situation in your life, it is wise that you seal your record sooner. Sealing the record will enable you to put all your history behind and concentrate on moving forward with your life. Do not wait until you get an opportunity that will force you to seal your record in the public database. It would be good if you did it the earlier, the better.
How Record Sealing Will affect Your Life
Things can normalize for you if your record has been successfully sealed. Therefore, it will be a bit easy for you to get a residential house, secure a job, apply for a loan, and get a professional license. The reason being, the criminal records will be deleted from the public database, and there will be no access to them by the public.
There are some restrictions that will remain in place despite having your record sealed. They are:
- You will not reinstate your rights to own a gun.
- The sealing will not exempt you from registering yourself as a sex offender if it is required.
- The record sealing will not give you a right to hold a position in a public office.
- If you want to hold a position in a public office, you will be required to apply for a contract with the State Lottery Commission, pursue a professional license, and apply for a peace officer job.
Sealing a Record for Juveniles in California
The sealing may not be as easy as you think; however, the state also does not want your life to be affected by your criminal records. For your record sealing request to go through as a juvenile, you have to have attained at least 18 years, and you must have satisfied all the terms of your sentence probation. If you have completed your court supervision five years ago or even longer, you can apply for record sealing. There are some instances when your record sealing request will not be approved. They are:
- If you have a pending lawsuit that relates to your offense in your juvenile record
- In case you have been convicted as an adult for misdemeanor or felony charges
- If your criminal case is transferred to a criminal court and convicted as an adult
Record sealing for juveniles takes a longer time for their request to be approved by the prosecutor. It takes between 8 to 10 months. To make your petition request to be done in a shorter time, it is essential to contact an attorney to guide you in filing for the right. Before your juvenile case is sealed, the law allows your juvenile case to be dismissed first. The record will be sealed even if it was a serious or violent crime, as long as the judge approves that you have successfully met the criteria, and it is in your interest.
Who Has a Right to Disclose My Sealed Record Against Me?
Few bodies can use the records against you. They are the justice system, courts, and law enforcement authorities. With them having access to your records, they can disclose as they please. Your records will be used against you when the police arrest for driving under the influence or any related case. The insurance company will access your records before deciding on whether to compensate you for your damages or not. Access to your records will be made possible through the Department of motor vehicles. It, therefore, means that even if you have your record sealed:
- You will not be eligible to hold a position in a public office.
- You will remain as a registered sex offender if applicable.
- You will not be eligible to possess or own a firearm.
- You will be forced to divulge your arrest record for these reasons:
- When running for a position in a public office
- When applying for a job as a peace officer
- When applying for a contract position in the State Lottery Commission
What If Someone discloses My Sealed Record?
If someone discloses your record, the situation is evaluated by a California Attorney General, city attorney, or district attorney. After the investigation is done and the person who disclosed the information is arrested, they will face some consequences. Depending on the number of records that the other person has revealed, they will pay a fine ranging from $500 to $2500 for each violation.
A civil lawsuit is another course of action that can be of help. You can file for compensation from the person who disclosed your records to cover the damages they have caused you by revealing your records against the law. For the settlement to be successful, you should contact an attorney to help gather the evidence that proves the other person disclosed your records recklessly and with a specific intention.
What Will Happen If My Record is Sealed?
Before filing for a petition, it is crucial to understand the effect of your record sealing. After your record is sealed, the arresting police will remove information that led to your arrest and the charges filed against you. The evidence removed from your record includes the photographs taken, fingerprints record, and any other documentation related to your arrest. The physical destruction of the evidence is done three years after your record is sealed. That does not mean that your records are permanently deleted, they remain in the law enforcement database, but it will not be available to the public.
There is a reason why your record will remain in the law enforcement database is that. It will be used if they put you in custody in the future. When your record is sealed, the following will be done:
- Your criminal records will not be accessible in the public database. It will only be available to criminal justice agencies.
- The arrest reports with the police and the court are sealed, including any other report related to your arrest.
- After your record is sealed, you have a legal right to say “no” if someone asks you whether you have had any arrest or a criminal record that is already sealed. You will only be required to disclose the records at specific times, like when you want to hold a public office position.
Find A Record Sealing Attorney Near Me
For you to have your records sealed from the public database, understanding strict procedures and rules may be challenging for you to follow on your own. Missing a single step may lead to your petition failing, and your record will not be removed from the public database. Failure to seal your record harms your life because you will experience challenges in different matters like securing a job, losing your professional license, and many other issues.
Hiring an experienced attorney can increase your chances of having your record sealed. The attorney will assist you in different ways. They will ensure your petition's strong defense and determine if you are eligible for the record sealing. The attorney will also help you file for a petition, serve the petition to all parties, and represent you during the hearing process. The Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney has experts who will help you file for a plea and have your records sealed, and you will reinstate your freedom. Contact us at 310-564-2605 to get the help you need in sealing your records.
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